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Gaining a Competitive Edge: Moving Wind Power to Distant Markets

When wind turbine shippers wanted a more efficient, affordable way to move their product, UPDS devised a rail-based plan to accomplish their goals.

Released December 6, 2016 Case Study


If you’ve ever seen wind turbine components, you’ll know they’re very large and come in abnormal shapes. Because of that, traditionally, these components were shipped individually by truck. But our customers were seeking a more efficient, affordable way to move their turbines — and we knew rail was the answer.

Wind turbines

Shipper Challenges

Because of their size and shape, at first glance rail didn’t appear to be a good fit. How could we load wind turbine components onto rail cars? And, where would we unload them? At the time, only a limited number of unloading sites existed.

The UPDS Solution

We knew we could find a more efficient, affordable way to move wind turbines. So our best-in-class logistics team went to work.

First, we used specialized rail equipment that could handle the size and shape of the components so they could move easily by rail. Then, we established a network of wind distribution centers where components could be unloaded from rail cars, staged strategically close to the wind farms for as-needed deployment and placed onto trucks for quick delivery to project sites. Today, we have more than 40 of these in place. By overcoming these challenges, we were able to make rail work.

Our Results

We found a way to for the wind industry to access rail, but more importantly, we also helped our customers realize a significant cost savings by converting their shipments from truck to rail.

At the same time, we helped our customers expand their reach. With an affordable transportation solution in place, it made economic sense for them to sell to — and ship to — distant markets. And with trucks ready to transport turbines from our distribution centers, they could get there quickly and efficiently. From that point forward, rail was a valuable solution.

Since 2006, we’ve handled more than 60,000 wind components — and maintain a 99.7% damage-free rate. In the end, this solution offered the wind industry a gateway to rail. In doing so, they’ve saved on transportation costs, expanded their market reach, and they do it all safely and efficiently.

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